Helpful Ways to Use Hospital Surge Facilities After the Pandemic

It’s no secret that COVID-19 took hospitals by storm this year. Many hospitals expanded their facilities to accommodate the overflow of patients. But what will become of those facilities once the pandemic has subsided?

One of the major advantages of BLU-MED Response Systems® facilities is that they can be easily taken down and stored for future use. Since they only take about 30 minutes to set up, they are the ideal temporary structure for on-demand hospital surge capacity. 

However, before hospitals decide on packing away their BLU-MED facilities, hospitals might consider leaving them in place for other uses. Surprisingly, there are many ways to use hospital surge facilities — even after current or future COVID surges subside.

How to Repurpose Hospital Surge Facilities After the Pandemic

Here are four creative and helpful ways hospitals and healthcare providers can repurpose their BLU-MED facilities when hospital surges subside.

1. Healthcare Worker Recovery Areas

One of the ways to use hospital surge facilities after a surge subsides is for healthcare worker recovery areas. In fact, some hospitals are already doing just that. Recently, a hospital in Manhattan transformed their triage tent into an oasis for their healthcare workers

When a hospital undergoes a major surge in patients, its staff works around the clock to keep up with the influx of patients. They both experience extreme amounts of stress and put their own lives on the line. As a result, healthcare workers must constantly deal with physical and psychological stress.

Once a hospital surge subsides, healthcare professionals need time and space to decompress and recover. Not only is this important for workers' health, but also for the future well-being of the hospital as a whole. When healthcare workers have proper stress recovery, they can return to work and continue to perform at their best.

Hospitals can help their employees by creating healthcare worker recovery areas from surge facilities that are no longer in use. Consider including the following in your healthcare oasis:

  • Soft, nonfluorescent lighting
  • Plenty of greenery
  • Comfortable furniture and rugs for warmth
  • A projector to display peaceful scenic images

This calming atmosphere will transport a healthcare worker from stress to a serene and peaceful state.

[Related: Airborne Diseases: An Overview]

2. Sleep Rooms for Patients’ Families

One of the most difficult parts about having a family member in the hospital is having to leave them alone overnight. This is especially troubling when the:

  • Patient’s family lives far away from the hospital (especially if they are out of state)
  • Patient is a child who is used to waking up and falling asleep with a parent or guardian nearby
  • Hospital visit takes place unexpectedly, leaving the family with no time to make hotel arrangements

In these cases, having a sleep room for patients’ families can make all the difference. However, many hospitals have no or limited space inside the hospital to offer for this purpose. 

Instead of packing away your BLU-MED facilities, consider offering the available space to families as sleep rooms. Philadelphia Children’s Hospital offers these facilities at no cost to families, on a nightly basis. A simple overnight space can make all the difference in keeping your patient and their family comfortable and stress-free during their stay.

Plus, because BLU-MED facilities are insulated and temperature-controlled, families will be comfortable and safe sleeping in these rooms year-round. 

[Related: Setting Up a Drive-Through Testing Station]

3. Vaccine Distribution Centers

When they are no longer being used to isolate and treat COVID-19 patients, hospital surge facilities can be used to distribute the COVID vaccine.

It's estimated that a COVID vaccine may be readily available to the general public by early to mid-2021. So this may be one of the more practical ways to use hospital surge facilities as hospitals prepare for large vaccination campaigns and programs. 

If your hospital’s BLU-MED facilities are already equipped with negative pressure isolation, they can be used to provide a safe space for administering vaccines while minimizing the potential spread of the virus during a patient’s visit. The facility can also be used to administer other vaccines, including seasonal influenza vaccines. A large benefit for using portable medical facilities is to prevent potentially infected patients from entering the hospital or urgent care facility.

Additionally, BLU-MED facilities can safely and securely store vaccination equipment in a weatherproof and temperature-controlled facility.  

4. COVID Visiting Centers

Even after the surge of COVID-19 patients is no longer taxing hospitals, precautions will likely be necessary — especially at assisted living homes, nursing homes, and other locations that are home to high-risk populations.

As such, hospital surge facilities can be repurposed as COVID visiting centers at these places.

Senior citizens are advised not to leave their facilities during the pandemic because of the risk that this would pose and the quarantining that would be necessary upon their return. COVID visiting centers allow them to see their loved ones by creating a space separate from the main building, equipped with separate entrances for residents and visitors and social distancing and hygiene measures.

5. Telehealth Office Spaces

Finally, another way to use hospital surge facilities after the pandemic is for telehealth office spaces. 

The COVID-19 pandemic may have increased the number of telehealth appointments made over the past year. However, trends suggest that they were on the rise already and are here to stay.

There are major benefits of telehealth for both patients and healthcare providers. Patients can save over 100 minutes of their time by seeing a doctor virtually rather than in-person. In addition, healthcare providers and other patients have minimized the risk of exposure with telemedicine approaches. 

However, in order for a telehealth appointment to be successful, doctors need to have the proper office space. This should include the following:

  • A quiet, secure, and well-lit environment
  • Access to Wi-Fi or other computer networks
  • Electrical outlets for computer equipment
  • A desk to use a computer and files on 
  • A temperature control unit for healthcare worker comfort

Common workspaces in the hospital may not offer all of the necessary features for a healthcare professional to conduct a confidential telehealth appointment. 

If the healthcare professional conducts the appointment in an open space, others may oversee or overhear — which may be illegal under the HIPAA law. Plus, if the background is too busy, patients might have difficulty hearing or seeing their doctor. 

For this reason, having a dedicated space specifically for telehealth use is ideal. And BLU-MED facilities are ideal to serve this purpose. Their plug-and-play electrical system, insulation, and temperature control provide healthcare professionals with all the resources they need for a successful telemedicine appointment. 

[Related: Key Elements of Pandemic-Ready Healthcare Facilities]

Deciding Whether to Pack Away or Repurpose Your Hospital Surge Facilities?

Is your hospital deciding whether to pack away your BLU-MED facilities or begin to repurpose them? 

Here are a few things to consider when making your decision:

  • What are the current trends of COVID-19 cases in your area? If they are on the rise again, consider repurposing them instead of storing them. This way, you’ll be able to quickly transition the spaces back into surge facilities if the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations quickly increases.
  • What are the needs of your healthcare workers? Healthcare workers could benefit from recovery spaces in the hospital if they do not already have a lounge or other mental health resources available to them.
  • Does your hospital have a wait-list for sleep rooms? If there is a high demand for sleep rooms at your hospital, you can turn away fewer families by choosing to repurpose your surge facilities instead of storing them away.

Each hospital is unique and has different needs to perform at its best. If your hospital finds that it needs extra space, BLU-MED facilities can serve a wide range of purposes, even beyond their use as surge facilities

If you have questions about how to repurpose your BLU-MED facility or add-on features to customize the new space, contact us today!

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